Parent Newsletter 21 November

Dear parents,

I hope you are all safe and well.

It is with great sadness that we share with you that one of our past pupils, Benjamin Kouijzer, passed away last weekend – he was only 36 years old.  Ben was in fact Head Student in 2002 and after leaving Aloha he went on to pursue a successful career in the media. He will be sorely missed. To his fiancée, family, colleagues and teachers who knew him, the Aloha College community offers our most sincere condolences.

Return of Year 6 WA

It was nice to welcome back our Year 6, Miss Aspden’s class, after 10 days of quarantine. They were all superb, taking part in their online learning so diligently. Well done to them all.

Yousef even found time to send me a lovely poem for Be Kind Week and here he is, celebrating and supporting Be Kind Week from his garden. Thank you, Yousef!

Some Year 12 pupils created short videos for primary pupils, talking about the importance of kindness and the challenges children may face.  The young ones really enjoyed the videos – thank you to the Year 12’s for giving the pupils something to think about!

Odd Sox Day was very well supported by most pupils and parents and it was a great pity you didn’t get to enjoy the splendid array of bright colours. Enjoy this small selection of photos:

Raffle Tickets
By now you will have received your raffle tickets; please try and sell them if you can, there are some lovely prizes to be won and enjoyed for Christmas. Please remember that there are many extra books to be sold, so if you need more tickets ask your children to collect some from the appropriate school secretary (Miss Agostina in Primary and Miss Mariela in Secondary):

Creative Arts
Perhaps I shouldn’t share these photos with you in case they are going to be Christmas presents!  This is Year 8 carefully creating clay pots in their art lessons. Well done, you have designed some fantastic work!

Manuel, our Communications Officer, is busily contacting our alumni so we can share with you some of their amazing success stories since they left Aloha College Marbella. One of our ex-pupils has gone on to be a pilot of large commercial jets; I hope that if I am ever one of his passengers, his memories of me are positive ones!

“Un Clic para el Cole” <- Please click here 😉
Amazon is offering an initiative called “un clic para el cole” whereby customers can choose to have 2.5% of the cost of their purchase donated to a school which has registered for this.  Aloha College Marbella has joined the scheme, therefore if you do the “clic para el cole”, you can choose our school from the list and that percentage of your purchase will go to ACM without any cost for yourselves.

No doubt with Christmas coming up and our travel to shopping centres being limited, a decent amount of money could be collected for the school, so we would be really grateful for your support, as we are to the thoughtful parent who brought this to our attention.
Mrs Salmon’s news
To end my letter, may I ask you to read Mrs Salmon’s news. I will comment more on this next week.

Enjoy a lovely weekend with your families – I know we can’t travel far but at least take some time to relax!  I intend to put my Christmas tree up, I know it’s early but I think we all need some cheer.

Elizabeth Batchelor


Dear Parents,

Twenty one years ago I joined Aloha College Marbella. It was a much different school then with all year groups from Nursery to Y13 in what is now the Primary School building. Throughout the years I have watched it grow and have been very proud of my contributions towards its development into the excellent school it is today; not just the buildings but its truly international community and its caring ethos.

However, like many of you, this past year has been very difficult and sadly at the start of this term my beloved Dad passed away suddenly. He was an amazing family man and so, after much soul searching, I have made the decision that now is the right time for me to return home to be with my Mum and family. I shall be leaving ACM at the end of this term and will be returning to the UK in the New Year. 

I shall of course take with me many, many fond memories of the school especially the amazing happy children, the talented and committed teaching staff and non-teaching staff that I have had the privilege of working with through the years, and of course all of you the wonderful Parents.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Board of Trustees for their guidance and support through the years.

At the beginning of this letter I said I arrived 21 years ago. My first Headteacher was Mrs Batchelor and I especially thank her for her inspiration, leadership and after all this time friendship. Also Susan Robson who was also here when I started and has been the person who introduced me to you all when you applied to join our beautiful school.

A huge thank you to my SLT team: Miss Liz, who I have worked with, again, for 21 years, Miss Kate and Mr Smith. Such a great team and I know they will continue to support Mrs Batchelor in maintaining the running of the Primary School until my lucky successor takes the reins.

I shall be telling the children personally next week but I am looking forward to enjoying the time with them in the next few special weeks.

Finally, Aloha College Marbella is a truly special and unique school full of learning, care, laughter and achievement. It has always been a special moment when I see the Year 13  former Primary School pupils graduate and go off into the world as young adults.

Aloha College Marbella will always remain ‘The Best’ and I will continue to watch it grow and develop from afar.

Take care, stay safe and I shall miss you all.

Yours sincerely

Kathryn Salmon – Headteacher, Primary


Dear Parents,

For the second time I write my weekly newsletter on a topic suggested by students from my A-Level maths class. What a great source of inspiration!

I do not know exactly what sparked the discussion with this group of young mathematicians the other day, but I remember that I said something along the lines of:

“If you win, great. If you do not win then you are a loser and there is no point in making a fuss about it ”

I know it is a cliche, but life is not fair. Accepting that luck will not always be on our side or that one cannot always win are important lessons to learn before we step out into the real world. The problem, I think, is that the role of the loser is one of the hardest to play in the world. Why though? In the same way that we know what it takes to succeed or win something, shouldn’t we also learn what to do if we lose?

As a child, I remember playing a game called Operation. You had to use a pair of tweezers connected to a wire on the board. The aim was to remove ailments made of plastic without touching the metal edge. A buzzer would sound if you did and the patient’s nose would light up red. I never won at Operation! My parents could have easily fixed the game to let me win, but they never did! Losing the game each time brought many tears as well as much anger and frustration. 

When I look back, I am convinced that my parents were trying to teach me a lesson and that was how to handle struggle and frustration. In all competitive situations someone has to lose and this can be very difficult to deal with at first. It is ok to be angry, upset and disappointed but it is not ok to let it affect your self-esteem. One must learn from it, let it go and move on. 

I never received a prize from my parents for losing the game. They did praise me when I managed to take out one of the ailments successfully, but that was about it. I believe that this approach is right, otherwise they would have done me a disservice if I were left to believe that, whether I win or lose,  I deserve a prize.

It is also tempting for us teachers or parents to fix the game so that everyone has a chance of winning, especially when our students have had a tough day. A pity win is not well received by anyone!

I cannot wait to hear what my A-Level class would advise for my next newsletter.

I hope you have a nice weekend.

Francisco Escobar
Headteacher, Secondary

Darren Roth
Headteacher Secondary

Earned his BA(Hons) in English Literature from Cardiff University before completing his teaching qualification as a secondary English teacher at Swansea University. Over 17 years in South Wales, he held roles including Head of English, Head of Sixth Form, and senior management before joining Aloha College Marbella in 2012. A passionate educator, Darren finds immense satisfaction in students’ success.

His diverse interests extend beyond the classroom. Darren obtained his pilot’s licence at 17 through a Royal Air Force scholarship and continued training for years. He volunteered in the Camp America scheme, played water polo for Wales Under 18s, and taught children to swim.
Outside of his professional and athletic pursuits, Darren enjoys reading, cycling, and walking his rescue Yorkshire Terrier, Charley. A paddleboarding enthusiast, he finds joy in outdoor activities. Darren also has a flair for cooking and delights in preparing meals for friends. He holds a special affection for the Andalusian sunshine and seizes every opportunity to explore Spain and beyond.

Earned his BA(Hons) in English Literature from Cardiff University before completing his teaching qualification as a secondary English teacher at Swansea University. Over 17 years in South Wales, he held roles including Head of English, Head of Sixth Form, and senior management before joining Aloha College Marbella in 2012. A passionate educator, Darren finds immense satisfaction in students’ success.

His diverse interests extend beyond the classroom. Darren obtained his pilot’s licence at 17 through a Royal Air Force scholarship and continued training for years. He volunteered in the Camp America scheme, played water polo for Wales Under 18s, and taught children to swim.

Outside of his professional and athletic pursuits, Darren enjoys reading, cycling, and walking his rescue Yorkshire Terrier, Charley. A paddleboarding enthusiast, he finds joy in outdoor activities. Darren also has a flair for cooking and delights in preparing meals for friends. He holds a special affection for the Andalusian sunshine and seizes every opportunity to explore Spain and beyond.

Louise Verinder
Designated Safeguarding Lead & Pastoral Care

Louise earned her BA Hons degree from Edge Hill University and went on to complete her PGCE. With a lifelong passion for sports, she always knew she wanted to become a PE teacher. She excelled, particularly in sports acrobatics, earning the honor of representing Great Britain. For fourteen years, she served as head of PE in Chorley, in the north-west of England, before embarking on what was supposed to be a year’s sabbatical in Spain.

Louise joined Aloha College in 2014 as a part-time teacher of PE. A couple of years later, she transitioned into the role of pastoral care, a role that she absolutely loves. Tasked with leading the secondary school’s PSHEE program and serving as the Designated Safeguarding Lead, she finds great pleasure in developing positive working relationships with teenagers, supporting their mental health and wellbeing, helping develop their self-esteem and confidence, as well as helping them navigate the challenges of life!
Louise is passionate about learning and developing her skillset. She is an accredited life coach with the ICF, specializing in working with teenagers. She has studied for a Diploma in NLP and has recently been awarded a Level 5 Diploma in Trauma and Mental Health-Informed Schools and Communities. 
Outside of teaching, Louise loves the simple things in life. Spending time with her family and friends, travelling, and spending time outside hiking, skiing and paddleboarding. She loves good food and she feels truly blessed to live in such a beautiful part of the world.
Sara Dickie
Head of Key Stage 2

Graduated from the University of Plymouth with a BEd (hons) specialising in English Literature and teaching children in the primary age range.  For the next 17 years, Sara worked in large, central and outer London schools.  As a senior leader in the UK, Sara raised attainment and supported curriculum development across groups of schools in the local area and worked with the local education authority to provide training across boroughs. She ensured the success of school improvement in roles such as leader of English, Maths and SEND provision over the years.  Sara moved to Spain in 2017 and is currently our Head of Key Stage 2.  

Sara has travelled to many fascinating destinations across the globe and still counts travel as one of her interests.  However, she now spends more time at her rural finca in the Andalucian mountains than ever before due to the increasing number of rescue animals she supports.  Outside of education, Sara loves to spend time in the countryside with her horses, dogs and many other animals under her care. 
Liz Keys
Teaching & Learning

Liz gained a BA.Hons degree in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Hull.  After her PGCE  she began her teaching career at a state Primary School in Barnsley, South Yorkshire. Her passion for teaching and her love of travel soon prompted her to take up her next role as a Reception class teacher at Bangkok Patana School in Thailand where she gained invaluable experience of working in an international environment. 

A desire to move closer to the UK prompted Liz to join Aloha College Marbella in 1997 where she has been a Key Stage leader in both KS1 & KS2. She is passionate about providing children with a Creative Curriculum which  provides exciting stimuli and first-hand learning experiences. Her interests are reading, travel and sampling different cuisines.
Anna Sweeting
Head of Key Stage 3 and Enrichment

Completed her degree in Business, Accounting and Finance, then later a Certificate in Mathematics. Having worked in banking, accounting and education finance she started teaching by founding a tuition company in 2006 and lecturing part-time in a further education college. These both grew, and a decision was made to sell the business and lecture full time, while also leading GCSE Maths. Anna made the move to secondary education in 2015, then joined Aloha College in 2016.

Anna loves inspiring students to try new things and to grasp opportunities, you never know where they will lead! She enjoys performing in theatre shows and singing, but the most drama in her life comes from being an avid follower of Blackpool FC, a curse that she has passed on to her two sons.
Jacqueline Brice
Head of Key Stage 4

Achieved a first class Honours degree in Mathematics and Physics from Kings College London before pursuing a career in broadcasting. She indulged her curiosity in the latest scientific and technological advances as a producer of scientific documentaries for BBC Radio and Television and then moved into fly-on-the-wall documentary making for Channel 4 with the police and the Royal Navy. Her broadcasting career has taken her flying through thunderstorms with lightning chasers in North Dakota, to crime scenes with the Metropolitan Police murder squad and from the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious to Gibraltar by Sea King helicopter. 

As her young family took priority in her life, she turned her degree into a Post Graduate Certificate of Education and brought her family to Spain, where she has continued to share her love of mathematics, science and life-long learning with the students of Aloha College for almost two decades. Over the years, she has thoroughly enjoyed leading the Mathematics Department and Key Stage 3 and now she is working as the Head of Key Stage 4, hoping to instill a love for learning and international travel in our young adults and to encourage them to value a broad range of creative, analytical and communication skills.
Ellen Richards
Head of EYFS

Studied at the University of Chester where she completed her BEd (Hons) in  Primary education, specialising in the Early Years. She believes there is no age range more exciting and inspiring with which to work, and feels fortunate to have truly found her vocation. 

Ellen has taught at international schools in Guangzhou, China, Bangkok, Thailand and London, UK, before joining the Aloha College Marbella team in 2018 where she is currently Head of Foundation Stage. Having attended international schools herself in Maseru, Lesotho, Yokohama, Japan and South Wales in the UK, Ellen feels a strong sense of belonging within our multicultural community.
Outside of work, Ellen is most content exploring all and any creative pursuits, be it in a rather haphazard way! What she lacks in finesse she makes up for in enthusiasm, and will happily while away the weekend with her sewing machine. 
Elaine McGirl
Head of Key Stage 5

An experienced educator with over two decades of expertise in the field of science and education. Originally from Ireland, Elaine graduated with Master’s degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Limerick after earning a Bachelor of Science in Education majoring in Biology and Chemistry. 

Driven by a passion for understanding how students learn best, Elaine has held diverse roles in education, including lecturing and tutoring in educational psychology to undergraduate students. She has extensive experience teaching various curricula, including the International Baccalaureate, A Levels and the Irish Leaving certificate, providing her with a comprehensive understanding of various educational systems. 
In 2007, Elaine joined Aloha College Marbella, where she has served as an IB and A-Level Biology teacher, General Science teacher, and Head of the Science Department. Currently, she holds the position of Head of Sixth Form and IB Diploma Programme Coordinator, demonstrating her leadership and commitment to guiding students towards academic excellence and personal growth.
Outside of teaching, Elaine enjoys Irish dancing, Flamenco, and salsa. She can play several instruments from her days in a youth marching band. Elaine loves traveling, trying new foods, and spending time with animals.
Anne Ross
Head of Key Stage 1

Began her teaching career with a Foundation Degree in Early Years from the University of the Highlands and Islands in Scotland. She managed and developed a Nursery School in the Highlands for several years and was very involved in raising the awareness and the importance of Early Years education throughout many schools in the Highlands and North of Scotland. Anne then furthered her studies, experience and expertise by gaining a PGCE at the University of Buckingham to further her career in Primary education.

At Aloha Anne has always been passionate about extending her knowledge and learning, she is currently studying to become a certified Well-Being coach. She is a strong advocate of student wellbeing, emotional intelligence and social development, these important life skills ensure our students emerge more resilient and ready to face future adversities. 
Even though Anne has lived in Spain for over 20 years, she loves to explore Spain’s rich culture and many hidden treasures. She is an enthusiastic traveller with a love for diverse destinations and learning from different cultures. Anne has always been passionate about sports and keeping fit and in her spare time she loves Crossfit classes, family time and reading.
Emma Saunders
Primary Designated Safeguarding Lead & Pastoral Car

Emma has dedicated her entire teaching and professional career to ACM. A Saint Mary’s University London honour’s graduate, holding a Masters Degree in International Education from Oxford Brookes, Emma has shaped her career into a student-centric narrative. Her experience and research into “Third Culture Kids’, which recognises our students unique educational, international and Spanish experience, was used in crafting and developing the Primary PSHEE programme, facilitating essential skills appropriate to academic, psychological and emotional well-being.

Emma’s professionalism at Charity, is helping change lives for the vulnerable, in Málaga and Africa where ACM has initiated educational programmes in Kampala. Her work as a rapporteur for the COBIS ConnectED sessions is established and recognised. As a qualified Catechist, Emma’s Pastoral Care role is busy and engaging. As a safeguarding expert and officer, fluent in Spanish, Emma analyses the latest programmes, developments and policies, at national and International level.
As a former ballerina, Emma trained young dancers for school shows and Marbella events in modern/Irish dance, and regularly performed in her native West End. Emma also enjoys entertaining family and friends, however Tara the Afghan Hound as the newest member of the Saunders family, is the one who now steals the show!
Kate Edwards
Headteacher Primary

Kate graduated from the University of Central England with a BEd (Hons) in Primary Education, specialising in the Early Years. As an experienced leader in both UK and international educational settings, Kate is committed to providing students with a learning environment that celebrates effort and achievement in both academic and personal endeavors. In July 2019, Kate, completed the Cobis Program for Aspiring Heads, before taking on her first headship with us in 2023. 

In her spare time, Kate loves spending time with her husband and three children. They often enjoy trips to the park, constructing Lego masterpieces, strolls along the beach and splashing about in the pool. When time allows, Kate also loves to bake.  At home you’ll often find her whipping up a storm in the kitchen. Rumour has it, she dreams of donning the iconic apron on the Great British Bake Off one day! 
Víctor Ranea
Head of Administration

Víctor Ranea se unió al colegio como Business Manager en 2003. Lideró el proceso de transición entre la antigua compañía y la fundación actual. Como responsable del área de Administración, ha participado en varios Planes Estratégicos. Además de las finanzas y los Presupuestos Generales, ha dirigido los proyectos constructivos del colegio y contribuido en los planes de marketing así como en la implementación de nuevos sistemas informáticos del área de finanzas.

Licenciado en Ciencias Economicas y Empresariales por la Universidad de Málaga, Víctor Ranea es un apasionado del deporte, con experiencia en competiciones regionales, habiendo contribuido a la creación de los clubs deportivos del colegio. Un amante de los viajes y la gastronomía, así como de la música, el teatro y el cine.